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New Storage Tiering coming in Server 2012 R2 – TechEd 2013 Favorites

You can try Storage Spaces in Server 2012 today!As you may already be aware, at TechEd this year in Orlando, several announcements about the new “R2” versions of various products were made.  Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 were just two of the products being updated later this year, and for which preview releases will be available later this month for evaluation. (Watch this blog for details.)

One of my favorite things (which is why this article is my next in our “TechEd 2013 Favorites” series) announced that is coming in Windows Server 2012 R2 is new capabilities in Storage Spaces

“Storage Spaces?”

Okay.. for those of you not familiar with Storage Spaces; from the TechNet description:

Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 enables cost-effective, optimally used, highly available, scalable, and flexible storage solutions for business-critical (virtual or physical) deployments. Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 deliver sophisticated storage virtualization capabilities, which empower customers to use industry-standard storage for single computer and scalable multinode deployments. It is appropriate for a wide range of customers, from consumers using Windows 8 for personal storage, to enterprise and cloud hosting companies using Windows Server 2012 for highly available storage that can cost-effectively grow with demand.

So, with cheap hardware (think JBOD arrays vs. expensive SAN solutions), and just using built-in capabilities of Windows Server, you can create pools of storage that can be dynamically provisioned and allocated.  You can thin-provision virtual disks (think LUNs) that, when running short of actual space, can be added to dynamically without having to tear-it-down and replace it with something bigger. 

HINT: If you want to play with Storage Spaces without dedicating hardware to it, check out this blog post on how to use a free Windows Azure Trial to try it out: http://blogs.technet.com/b/kevinremde/archive/2013/01/27/use-windows-azure-to-learn-windows-server-2012-storage-spaces-31-days-of-servers-in-the-cloud-part-27-of-31.aspx

“That sounds pretty good, Kevin.  But what’s new in R2?”

In R2 we give you the ability to add SSD storage and traditional spinning disks into storage pools, and the storage subsystem is able to prioritize how that storage will be most efficiently used.  Certified hardware will be detected to be either of type SSD or HDD.

“Why is that important?”

Well.. think about your typical storage use.  How much of it is actually in-use frequently?

“A very small amount compared to the rest of it.”

Exactly.  Let’s just say for example that 90% of your stored data is just sitting there not being used.  But 10% is actively being accessed and/or changed.  It would make sense to have the idle data sitting on slower HDDs, and the frequently used data on the SSDs, wouldn’t it?

“Yeah.”

Well, that’s what Storage Spaces will do for you automatically in Windows Server 2012 R2.   Every so often (at an interval that can be adjusted), the storage system will move bits around based on the “heat map” of which blocks of data are being used most frequently. 

“That’s very cool.  But can I also specify files that I absolutely want to give SSD preferential treatment to?  I have base disks for Windows client VMs that I want to force to the SSD.”

Absolutely.  In this case, it’s on a file-by-file basis.  But you can definitely designate a file to be on the SSDs  vs. the HDDs.  

“Sounds amazing!”

I agree.

For more information, please view the following breakout session recording from TechEd 2013 NA: Storage Spaces: What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2

Download the deck and video for offline viewing.

Session Index – Storage Spaces: What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Remde

Kevin is an engaging and highly sought-after speaker and webcaster who has landed several times on Microsoft's top 10 webcast list, and has delivered many top-scoring TechNet events and webcasts. In his past outside of Microsoft, Kevin has held positions such as software engineer, information systems professional, and information systems manager. He loves sharing helpful new solutions and technologies with his IT professional peers.

A prolific blogger, Kevin shares his thoughts, ideas and tips on his “Full of I.T.” blog (http://aka.ms/FullOfIT). He also contributes to and moderates the TechNet Forum IT Manager discussion (http://aka.ms/ITManager), and presents live TechNet Events throughout the central U.S. (http://www.technetevents.com). When he's not busy learning or blogging about new technologies, Kevin enjoys digital photography and videography, and sings in a band. (Q: Midlife crisis? A: More cowbell!) He continues to challenge his TechNet Event audiences to sing Karaoke with him.

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